Istanbul New Year's Attack: Missing Israeli 18-year-old Found Dead

Leanne Nasser from the Israeli-Arab town of Tira was celebrating with three friends at the Reina nightclub when the gunman broke in and opened fire. Israel is flying her remains home for burial on Monday.

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Leanne Nasser, missing after attack at Istanbul nightclub.
Leanne Nasser, missing after attack at Istanbul nightclub.Credit: Courtesy

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An Israeli woman who has been declared missing after the Istanbul nightclub attack on New Year's Eve was found dead, the Foreign Ministry confirmed Sunday.

Leanne Nasser, 18, from the Israeli-Arab town of Tira, was at the Reina nightclub with another three friends, when the attacker, reportedly dressed as Santa Claus, shot his way in and opened fire at random, killing at least 39 people and wounding close to 70.

Nasser's body will be flown back to Israel for burial on Monday at the Interior Ministry's expense, after the mayor of her hometown of Tira approached Interior Minister Arye Dery on the family's behalf.

"Leanne died in a difficult attack. As a country, we must help bring her body back to Israel," Dery said.

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Nasser's friend Ruaa Mansour, 18, sustained light to moderate wounds in the attack, and Alaa Abd al-Hai and Aya Abd al-Hai were suffering from anxiety. Relatives had been unable to reach Nasser since the attack, and only around noon discovered that she was dead.

"Shots were fired from all directions and I saw dead and wounded people falling near me," Alaa Abd al-Hai told Haaretz. "I hid in some corner and didn’t know what to do. Everyone was screaming and crying and the shooting didn’t stop, it sounded like an eternity."

"Afterwards, I was evacuated outside of the club and saw that everything's ruined, and a lot of blood and people lying dead. It was a horrific sight. I was taken to the police station to testify, and I know there's a friend who was hurt and another who was found healthy. Someone told me that the one missing has been located, but I'm not sure," she said.

"I hope that they find her in good health, we all want to return home and end this nightmare," she concluded.

Sufiyan Mansour, the father of the wounded Ruaa Mansour, told Haaretz that his daughter traveled to Istanbul on Friday for a week-long holiday with her friends. "They are good friends, and they planned on going for a few days' trip, for New Year's."

Mansour said that he spoke with his daughter on Saturday night, as she and her friends were waiting for a taxi to take them to the night club.

After reports of the attack surfaced, Mansour tried to reach his daughter.

"I tried calling her, but there was no answer, and we knew that the attack was at that same night club. We were all stressed and didn’t know what to do. Ruaa only answered at 6 A.M. and told us that she was hurt by gun shots to the lower body, that she was operated on and that she's hospitalized in stable condition," he said.

The girls' families said they were in touch with the consulate and were preparing to leave to Istanbul to return their daughters.

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